Macau opens a $2 billion resort with a giant copy of London’s Big Ben


This photograph taken on October 20, 2022 shows a replica of the Big Ben tower at the Londoner Casino Resort on the Cotai Strip in Macau. (Photo by Eduardo Leal/AFP) (Photo by EDUARDO LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

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Tourists in Asia no longer need to take long-haul flights to visit Big Ben in the UK or snap a photo of London’s iconic red double-decker bus.

They can now do the same in Macao, the so-called Las Vegas of Asia.

The Londoner Macau, a British-themed luxury casino in the center of Chinese gambling, held its grand opening ceremony on Thursday.

And English football star David Beckham was there to grace the event.

China’s gambling city has added another luxury casino along the Cotai Strip, a term Las Vegas Sands uses to refer to an alley lined with casino hotels, shopping malls and theaters.

“You can’t get a better hotel room than what we put in the Londoner. You can’t get a better spa experience, you can’t get a better dining experience,” CNBC told Thursday the CEO of Las Vegas Sands, Robert Goldstein.

He said the hotel’s opening “exemplifies our commitment to quality” and added: “The rooms are as good as anywhere in the world.”

The resort has been operational for two years, but its opening has been delayed due to strict Covid-19 restrictions and travel rules.

The $2 billion complex is home to replicas of UK’s iconic buildings. They include the Palace of Westminster, the official residence of the British Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, and the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, among other London landmarks.

Las Vegas Sands has The Londoner Macao, as well as The Venetian Macao, The Parisian Macao, Sands Maco and The Plaza Macao & Four Seasons Hotel Macao, all located along the Cotai Strip, the company’s website showed.

Replicas of famous European landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Venice’s Grand Canal can be seen in the other hotels.

Goldstein is proud that the luxury resort developer has brought Italy, France and England to Macau, a Chinese special administrative region.

“Who doesn’t love Paris? It felt natural to end the Italian, French, then English triumvirate,” Goldstein said.

The Londoner Macau Casino Resort and The Venetian Casino Resort along the Cotai Strip in Macau, China.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The biggest highlight for visitors to Londoner Macau is undoubtedly the ‘Changing of the Guard Entertainment Show’, according to the resort website. It was launched on Thursday evening during the opening ceremony.

Taking inspiration from the Changing of the Guard ceremony that takes place at Buckingham Palace, the performance at the resort will take place six days a week and will involve more than 20 dancers and musicians.

Visitors can also get a taste of London as they enjoy an Alice in Wonderland-inspired afternoon tea, or hop into the classic black cab for a virtual experience where Beckham drives through his favorite spots in the city.

Not just about the game

When you think of Macau, the first thought is often to gamble in the casinos. But the city has transformed beyond that and now offers a different experience for every visitor.

Goldstein said that 20 years ago, people in Hong Kong could not imagine that Macau could have retail businesses, restaurants, spas, conventions and hotels.

Today, no one questions Macao’s growth anymore, he said, stressing that Macao is a very “dominant and important” market.

Casino operators awarded collectively agreed concessions investing approximately $15 billion over the next 10 years, to help Macau diversify its gambling addiction and boost international tourism.

Sands China 'not cheap enough' to be our top pick in Macau, investment firm says

“Gaming is not a difficult business to build, and the government is right to focus on growing tourism,” Goldstein told CNBC. “Non-gambling fuels gaming…These non-gaming amenities are extremely important to both parties.”

“What we’re trying to do is build hotels that work in tandem. Gamers want to come, and non-gamers come here to shop or go to the spa for three days. So we’ll be in business for three days, and they’ll never have to go to the casino,” he added.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands are up more than 16% since the beginning of the year.

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